By Craig Handel

 (Special to Section2Basketball.com)

 

FORT MYERS, FL

Six days after he led his Glens Falls football team to a New York State championship, Joseph Girard III was on the court for the Indians’ basketball team’s season opener.

 

He was off that night. Just 34 points.

 

Off? You have to understand, this was a guy averaging 50 a night last season.

 

That’s how much Glens Falls relies on Girard, a 6-foot-2 guard headed to Syracuse.

 

When Girard is on – as shown by outings of 53 and 57 points this season – the Indians win.

 

When he’s off, they’ll likely lose.

 

It’s a lot of pressure. Girard squarely puts it on his shoulders, even if it bothers his uncle and coach, Robert Girard.

 

“He’s why we’re here,” Robert Girard said moments after Mississippi’s Petal High pulled away from Glens Falls for a 78-56 victory on Thursday night in the Culligan City of Palms Classic Signature Series.

 

With the loss, Glens Falls (6-1) will play Brunswick (Ga.) in the consolation game Saturday.

 

“He takes too much of the blame. He’s got two guys covering him, all game long. That wears on a kid. We know we live or die by him, no doubt about it. Those other kids know their roles and know what he can do.”

 

In the last two nights, Girard received a big dose of the highs and lows of competing at this level against some of the best high school players in the country.

 

In the last two nights, Girard received a big dose of the highs and lows of competing at this level against some of the best high school players in the country.

 

On Wednesday, the 6-foot-2 guard headed to Syracuse showed why when he won the 3-point shooting contest.

 

On Thursday, he made just 5-of-23 shots – and 2-of-14 from 3-point range.

 

“(Wednesday) night, I got it going in the 3-point contest,” said Girard, who had 22 points or 23 below his average. “I wanted to compete.

 

“Today, it didn’t work out in my favor. This one is definitely on me.”

 

Since age 3, Joseph Girard III has been on a basketball court. As a youth he won a national Elks foul-shooting contest, which got his named etched in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

 

“It’s definitely been in his blood for a long time,” Robert Girard said.

 

Last season, Girard III made 179 3-pointers as he led his team to a 20-3 record.
He has been compared to another Glens Falls great – Jimmer Fredette. In 2011, Fredette led BYU to the Sweet 16 before losing to Florida in overtime. He averaged 28.9 points his senior season.

 

After being a first-round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, he jumped around the NBA before finding his niche in China the past three years.

 

In November, Fredette scored 75 in a Chinese Basketball Association game, including 40 in the fourth quarter. In 2016-17, he led the league in scoring, at 37.6 points per game, counting all phases of the season and won the CBA International MVP award for the Shanghai Sharks.

 

“He’s been compared to him since he was 10 years old,” Girard’s father, Joseph II, said. “They went to the same elementary, middle and high school.”

Joseph III said he went to Fredette’s camps and learned a lot.

 

“He showed me his footwork and quick release, scoring in the paint,” he said. “And he’s a great role model on and off the court. Great player, great person. If I can be half as good and get half the accolades, I’ll be pretty good.”

 

While Penn State liked Girard for football as well as basketball, Duke, Boston College, Notre Dame and Michigan also offered scholarships in hoops.

 

Michigan coach John Beilein thought he may have had the inside track because he coached Joseph’s dad at Le Moyne College but another player compared to young Girard – Syracuse assistant Jerry McNamara – gave the Orangemen the edge.

 

“He would text, call or FaceTime almost every day,” Joseph Girard II said. “Gerry sees a lot of himself in Joseph, like looking in the mirror. He wants to coach him and feel he can help him in a lot of ways.”

 

Joseph Girard III added, “In the end, I felt more comfortable with Syracuse. Coach Mac and I talk all the time.”

 

With an interest in being a broadcaster, Girard III also found Syracuse appealing.

 

However, it looks like he’ll be playing for awhile.

 

“No. 1, he’s a competitor,” Robert Girard said. “He can shoot the lights out for sure but he’s got a gene that he doesn’t like to lose at all. He’ll fight to the bitter end. That’s how he was brought up. He also can defend when he wants to.

 

“He’s gonna have a real good college career.”

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